As part of its prison reforms plan, the Punjab government has proposed setting up a complaints redressal system for a fair and speedy resolution of inmates’ grievances. Steps would be taken to rectify prisoners’ grievance that their complaints against jail officials and unsatisfactory conditions in the prison do not reach the relevant officials because of the alleged machinations of prison management. Prisoners complain to officials who visit jails, and to prison superintendents and district and sessions judges when they are on routine inspection of prisons. The proposed rules will facilitate an inquiry by the IG Prisons or the government if there are reasonable grounds to believe that prisoners have been subjected to inhuman treatment. Such inquiries can be initiated even if a formal complaint has not been registered.
The superintendents of each prison will constitute a permanent complaints committee. The members of the committee will be the jailer, the senior-most deputy superintendent, the medical officer and the social welfare officer. In prisons where there is a women’s enclosure, a female deputy superintendent too will be in the committee. A grievance committee will be set up in every division to review complaints received from prisons. Now prisoners can verbally inform inspection officials during their visits to jails without the presence of the prison staff. Also, prisoners can complain to the district and sessions judge without the presence of jail staffers, if the former so desire. The IG Prison will submit monthly reports to the government on the actions taken on complaints so that remedial measures can be taken to rectify prisoners’ grievances in light of the deficiencies pointed out in the reports.
Poor prisoners face harsh conditions in jails while rich and influential inmates get all comforts. For the latter, prisons are much like home. The public has romantic notions about prisons which they have formed from watching movies, like this dialogue Mein jahan khada hoon line wohin se shru hoti hai i.e. the line starts from where I am standing.